May 23, 2016 · 4:42 pm
This sewing machine was found in a shed. It was unwanted by the new resident, so it came to me for cleaning, oiling and a look over. You see it here with some of the upper casing removed to allow lubrication. It is now on its way to new users in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yangkunytjatjara lands. Meanwhile at our place, the threadbare flourbag shirt got some more patches added. Here, the glue stitching I mentioned in my last post holding them in position.
Here, the inside view.
And here, the finished–for now–view of the back.
Threads dyed with pansy, dyer’s chamomile and eucalyptus.
I took up my friend’s jeans. I feel like I have almost got top stitching denim sorted!
Top tips: use a jeans needle. If using top stitching thread, thread the needle by hand (should you have any other options, don’t use them); and leave ordinary thread in the bobbin. Use a 4mm stitch at least.
Buttons replaced in position and stitched down so they don’t get away. I had to laugh when one button fell off at work the day of the second mending workshop!
And another sewing machine cleaned, oiled, tested and ready to go to its new owners. My grandmother lived in a country town where getting your machine serviced was not easy to arrange (cost may have been an issue too). She was a fearless tender to her own machine and those of all her friends and told me many times that cleaning and oiling fixed most troubles. So I am in her footsteps here, but in this case with a manual to guide me. I took this machine apart and oiled all. the. places. It really whirs along! It is now headed to asylum seekers who have been released from increasingly notorious conditions in detention on Nauru, who were tailors in their country of origin and will make great use of this well maintained machine. It came to me because I was working on the mending kits and a lovely volunteer in an op shop asked if I could re-home a machine she knew needed to find a new home. I feel sure its new use would please the original owner very much.
April 4, 2016 · 12:16 pm
There is a very large patch of dyers’ chamomile beside the Torrens River in a public park in the city. I was going that way recently and decided I would deadhead the chamomile. So I packed my secateurs and bags when I was headed that way again (en route to a day at WOMAD with friends) and took a detour. The summer has not been kind to this patch and some of it has turned black. But there is so much of it, there was no way I could cut all the dead flowers.
I had a lot of company. Regular ducks and maned wood ducks and a coot and a top knot pigeon and some moor hens came to chat. Most departed when I didn’t offer any morning tea.
This young one was persistent, chatting on to me as I worked away. Eventually quite a few of its relatives came along to make sure everything was OK and watch carefully from the other side of the path.
I kept snipping out dead flowers as passersby stared or ignored me or hurried past in case my strangeness was contagious, and maintained a bit of a conversation with the young moorhen. Next day I had this to set out to dry in the heat.
I can feel future dye baths coming on. It has been a great summer of harvest. We have had so many cucumbers!
The rhubarb kept coming even though the summer has been hard on it.
I have been out in the neighbourhood collecting saltbush seed.
I even found a new kind of saltbush that the council has planted a little way away from my house.
Friends had an open garden where they sold plants for an excellent cause. I donated my collection of divided succulents, and they all sold.
In March, we continued to enjoy local strawberries and bought the big box of seconds for the sheer delight of them.
And now autumn has begun, the quince harvest has come in too, lest the possums eat them all… and the new season’s harvest is begun already.
February 26, 2016 · 12:17 pm
I am on a project to create my own sock yarns this year using natural fibres. As part of the dyeing–because I like wildly coloured socks! I decide to dye some mohair and suffolk fleece. I have some dyes that were gifted to–or abandoned in–the dye room at the Guild. This time I chose Quebracho–which was not mentioned in any of my dye books but I assumed would require an alum mordant. I organised that, and found to my surprise that the preparation of quebracho I had completely dissolved. It’s a tree-based dye so I had rather imagined it was finely ground wood. Wrong. Interesting! Then, a second surprise. I thought it would be red, but actually, quebracho comes in a range of colours and I had quebracho yellow.
Which was a shame, really, as my second dye pot was dyer’s chamomile. Never mind. Yellow fibres can be readily blended and overdyed and needless to say I have some fibre dyed with eucalyptus destined to join this blend which might blend beautifully…..
The first dye bath from each came out rather splendidly and intensely yellow (quebracho on the right), and I was reminded that dyers’ chamomile always smells edible. Also, that it might be the right time of year to harvest this plant again (I took secateurs to the dead flowers of a patch growing in a city park last year). I love the smell of eucalyptus, but edible isn’t the thought that comes to mind!
I ran exhaust baths with some of Viola’s (crossbred) fleece. It had been in a cold alum mordant bucket for some months. Perfect! Ready to go at just the right moment! Another win for slow dyeing processes… and one step closer to an all natural sock yarn.
December 16, 2013 · 9:00 am
This summer, I have been collecting dyer’s chamomile for the first time. I have some in the garden, gifted to me by a fellow Guild member who was keen to have some of my madder (this wish granted, needless to say)! It has white petals.
But recently I found some with vivid yellow petals in the parklands beside the river Torrens.
Our exercise class were astonished when I said I was planning to harvest while we were out on a DIY exercise session (our instructor was off doing the Busselton Ironman–she is our hero). They offered to shield me from passersby who might intervene. I think they underestimated how scared most people seem to be when they see someone doing something so inexplicable (to them)! I let them know I’d only be taking the dead flowers and we all relaxed again. The patch is so big I really want to go back with more time… and it is flowering so generously, I am sure I have weeks in which to organise a return visit.
Meanwhile, we’ve been harvesting at home, too.
I keep thinking I’ll make rhubarb leaf mordant, and then not getting round to it!
October 16, 2013 · 11:38 am
I have decided to branch out from the eucalyptus based palette of ochre–caramel–tan–orange–red–maroon I have been so focused on for the last while and plan toward an indigo vat. Don’t you love these bold statements?
I still love the eucalypt colours: here, a small quantity of alpaca passing through various stages of preparation. Picked, dyed locks;
Partially carded batt;
and, finally, yarn–pictured in the dyer’s chamomile patch.
I have decided to try for yellow–green–blue transitions, which will necessarily begin with yellow. I had coreopsis flowers my mother saved me one summer, as she deadheaded her plants. This collection of flower heads speak to me of her love and her fine qualities as a gardener and a person who loves to share. I had reservations about the colour I would get from them, as some had gone mouldy. Her -plants are just so prolific–the stack of wilted heads had trapped enough moisture to create mould.
I also had a little remaining quantity of osage orange shavings of antiquity, gifted to me from the Guild.
I prepared them both for the dyebath, but have to say my tea ball was not a good enough receptacle to retain the osage orange. I not only sieved the dye vat before adding wool (thank goodness I remembered to do this as I tackled it one night when the amount of sawdust in the vat was not as obvious as in the clear light of day) but also placed the whole tea ball in another fine cloth bag before running an exhaust bath.
Even after the first bath of each dye, there was a lot of colour left, so I ran an exhaust bath and dyed a total of about 800g of white corriedale. I was especially impressed with the amount of colour and the wonderful smell of the coreopsis bath. I need not have worried about the mould. Here is the coreopsis bath between dyeings.
The resulting yellows are lovely. On the left, coreopsis bath 1, then coreopsis bath 2, osage orange bath 1 and osage orange bath 2. The coreopsis yellows are quite buttery and golden and the osage orange colours are a little more lemony. And, there is further evidence that grass seeds and other vegetable matter take dyes quite well! Now, to build up my courage for the indigo stage and some greens and blues.
Filed under Dye Plants, Eucalypts, Fibre preparation, Natural dyeing
Tagged as alpaca, coreopsis, coreopsis flowers, corriedale, dyeing, dyers' chamomile, for the love of the Guild, orange again, osage orange, wool, yellow